A Big Moment for Me

Do you have any moments that stand out in your head? Not events or hours or conversations – but moments when something just CLICKS? I’ve had a couple of them in my life – one in particular on December 21 of last year. Wes Leytham was right there to catch it. It was the moment above. I laughed when I first saw this photo, because of the look on my face. I was thinking “I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud.” Part of what made MTH so changing for me was that Lara and Jeff really encouraged everyone to GET real and BE honest. Not on paper, not later after the event, but right there – right then – in front of everyone. Yes, there were tears – in fact, I think mine came seconds after this photo was taken. That kind of honesty is hard. But everyone in the room just let their guard down and let it all spill.

At this moment, I was saying “My biggest fear… is falling. Failure. I just don’t.” I meant it too. My entire life, I’ve worked my tail off to get what I want. And about 99% of the time, if I worked crazy hard and crazy long – I won. Now that I’m almost 27, I’m learning (in quite a few ways) that life just doesn’t always work that way. Truth be told, three days before MTH, I received a Cease and Desist letter from another company operating under the name Good Paper. My first instinct, when I received the letter, was to fight it as hard as I could (because that’s how you win, right?). I’d done everything right – filed two trademark applications (which had passed through all the necessary research and approval and were due to be REGISTERED just 24 hours later) and hired a trademark manager to manage the process. I knew in my heart that I had every right to that name – that I would win. So, I immediately hired an intellectual property attorney. He started doing the initial research. and told me that yes, I may win – but the battle could be a long and expensive one. Again, I was ready to fight. I had worked an entire YEAR – paying every penny I made through my business to an amazing web/branding designer who had built a website/blog around this name. It was (IS!) incredible. I wasn’t going to lose that. But more importantly, I’d promoted my name to my clients – to my friends – even built a reputation around it on Etsy.

I wasn’t going to fail. Because I DON’T fail.


During a break at MTH, I checked my email on my iPhone. An email came through from my Attorney – “Emily, we may lose this.” Again, he brought up a few points that made my registration look bleak. All of the energy and renewal I felt from the first part of MTH felt shaky. I suddenly felt embarrassed (besides, I’d even introduced myself to the MTH group and to Lara as ‘Emily Ley – owner/designer of Goodpaper’). How would I explain this? How would I tell all my friends and clients that I’d failed? Everything I’d worked for – for an entire year. I was embarrassed.

It was Jeff Holt and Kyle Barnes who initially said – over wine and sushi after MTH – while others were having their one-on-one time with Lara… “What is Goodpaper? Why aren’t you using your name?” (I laughed a little… they didn’t know the bad news that had just come my way – they also didn’t know that I originally started my company as Emily Ley Paper, but changed it to Goodpaper midyear). I couldn’t answer that question – other than the fact that I had this ridiculously strong brand that was going to be unveiled and it was GOODPAPER. Then, I had my time with Lara. She said the same thing. She encouraged me to take my name, my personality – to the next level. It was right then, that I realized, that my BRAND wasn’t strong because it was Goodpaper. It was strong because it was an sincere extension of myself. Simple. Classic. Fresh. And most importantly, very Southern.

It was like I finally took a breath in that moment and realized… it is OKAY to fail. I have failed at this Trademark – for many reasons. And everyone will ask what happened – and why didn’t it work out – and what was wrong with the Goodpaper name – and some people may even like that better. But that would be okay. Because by focusing on what FIRES me up – my love to BUILD (a home, a family, a business, a brand – and other people up) – would be my end-all-be-all focus. And nothing about my brand would change, other than my willingness to drop the weight of the name and OWN it as an extension of myself.

The very next day, I abandoned both trademark applications. I let my attorney know. I began the name change process. And I made the announcement to my friends and clients (subtly) that Emily Ley Paper was making a comeback. The way it was received assured me I was doing the right thing. And by being honest, I was sticking to my PROMISE to be authentic. And you know what… it felt good. It felt good, for the first time in my life, to fall. Because what was waiting for me when I hit the floor and felt the embarrassment and pain of losing so much money – was support for everything about my business that ISNT in my name – my dedication to my clients, the quality of the materials I use, my personality, and my strong belief in my design.

* Photos by Wes Leytham of Rae Leytham Photography.

16 comments:

Ulmer Studios said...

Love your openess & honesty! It was a great read and at some point I hope to be able to attend the MTH event!!!

Look forward to reading more about about you!
Look forward to the new site and launch!

Josh

SoFlaPhotog said...

Thx for sharing :)

Mary said...

Great blog post. Does this mean you are good to go with the name Goodpaper...or do you still have some things to work out? Good Luck!

Daily Sip Studios said...

Emily, I love this post. Thanks for sharing your story. I love the name Emily Ley Paper.

I have been thinking about changing my shop name, too, and have had a domain name on hold but haven't been able to make the switch because I thought it would hinder the brand I've built. I may have to reconsider after reading your post. Best of luck with the new website and everything that follows!

owlandbunnyblog said...

This is a really inspiring post! As scary as it is in failing, sometimes when it actually happens, its not as bad as we thought it would be - and knowing that means you can really go for it without the fear next time!
I'm sorry to hear about the trademark issues, good luck with the launch of the new blog/site!
Deb

Valerie Metrejean said...

Awesome post!! Remember what Jeff said..."Fall often." You may feel like you failed with the name but I think God just did what He always does and works in the completely opposite way of what we expect. Think about it, if you had just kept Emily Ley in the first place, you probably wouldn't feel as passionate about it or as confident in it. I love it! And can't wait to see the new site.

Lydia Yeung said...

your honesty and your determination is inspiring. thank you emily!

The Broke-Ass Bride said...

I love you. That is all.

Emily Ley said...

Thank you guys so much for your sweet words! What a crazy adventure this is.

Monica N said...

Emily Ley Paper is better anyway ; ) Thanks for sharing, sometimes its nice to know that others don't get everything right the first time around too... I was beginning to think it was just me! Can't wait to see what you dream up!

erintagle said...

I'm sorry to hear that about your "Good Paper" name/research/etc. EmilyLeyPaper sounds better to me anways! It's sounds more southern and charming, just like your work! You didn't fail; unfortunately we just cannot control everything no matter how many "t's" we cross and "i's" we dot. Ya know? Cheers to much success in 2010 for ELP!

Letters by Lauren said...

I look forward to your new site - no matter what the name. It really seems like you were diligent in your research and some things are just be meant to be!

Letters by Lauren said...

sorry. 'some things are just meant to be'
getting a little over eager on the keyboard.

Lauren @ Every Last Detail said...

I did always think of your business as Emily Ley Paper, Goodpaper and all, because your business has been such an accurate image of you as a person! I'm so excited for you, and I love ELP! You're such an inspiration to me Emily! :)

Alexandra said...

Beautiful post. I love how you prove the point that it's okay to fail, and that you learned so much from failing, and that in the end it's for the better. It must have felt SO good to know that the value of your business isn't in the name, but in YOU. Love this post. Thanks for sharing and always being so open and honest. It's very refreshing.

Hillary and Russell Jordan said...

Gosh, Emily... I just love how genuine you are in your posts. So glad to see you're putting yourself out there, as I can relate to so many of your feelings. Your video posts are almost scary, it's as if I'm watching myself in a mirror! I'm just one year into the wholesale side of the stationery business myself and only wish MTH was available when I started. You've definitely inspired me to look into the workshop. I guess it's never too late to find my own support group!

As for your company's name change, I truly believe the trademark situation was a blessing and I immediately thought of this quote... 'When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.' I am often guilty of this and have to consciously pray that if it's in His will that an opportunity will fall into place. Sounds like many doors are wide open for Emily Ley Paper. Best of luck to you and I hope we have the opportunity to meet at a market soon!

Hillary Jordan
Address to Impress